ATLANTIC CITY, NJ—Last year was the best yearfor homebuilding in New Jersey since 2006 and 2015 is likely to seea return to historic levels, according to George Vallone, theincoming president of the New Jersey BuildersAssociation. Vallone sat for an exclusiveinterview with GlobeSt.com during Wednesday's session ofthe group's Atlantic Builders Convention inAtlantic City.

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“We had roughly 28,000 building permits pulled, which is the keyindicator of new volume in housing starts,” saysVallone. “The average number of permits from 1960to 2006 was 36,000 a year, so you can see we haven't reached ourhistorical level of building volume yet, but we're well on our way,and I think that in 2015 we probably will hit that 36,000 startsnumber, so that bodes well that we are coming out of the recessionnow and we're starting to get back to normal building levels.”

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Among public policy issues weighing on the building community,says Vallone, is the recent New Jersey SupremeCourt decision that essentially returns disputes over affordablehousing to the court system, stripping the Council onAffordable Housing (COAH) of its oversightresponsibilities.

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“We think that the logjam has been broken now on the affordablehousing issue, which has been tied up in the courts for at least 20years now,” he says. “The builders are gearing up, the buildersthat have had land that have been waiting for the doors to open aregetting revved up. They're going to either be submitting plansunder a town's affordable housing element that's been deemedcompliant. Or, if the town doesn't do what they're supposed to do,they're going to sue the town.”

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Revisions to the International Building Code, which New Jerseyhas adopted, were just made for 2015, which is “moving in thedirection of sustainability and energy efficiency,” saysVallone.

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“Instead of telling you how you have to build a house, they'retelling you how that house has to perform from an energystandpoint,” he says. “The industry is going to have to figure outhow to meet those standards, but I think it bodes well for vendorsof products and services that produce more energy efficienthousing.”

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The New Jersey Builders Association alsorecognizes the significant role of multifamily development in thehousing mix, Vallone says. The group started apartner organization about five years ago, called the MixedUse Developers Association. Of the 28,000 housing startsreported in 2014, Vallone says 64 percent were formultifamily, and of those, about two-thirds were in the riverside“urban core” communities in Bergen and Hudson Counties.

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You can hear our complete conversation withVallone in an audio news report in the playerbelow.

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Steve Lubetkin

Steve Lubetkin is the New Jersey and Philadelphia editor for GlobeSt.com. He is currently filling in covering Chicago and Midwest markets until a new permanent editor is named. He previously filled in covering Atlanta. Steve’s journalism background includes print and broadcast reporting for NJ news organizations. His audio and video work for GlobeSt.com has been honored by the Garden State Journalists Association, and he has also been recognized for video by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has produced audio podcasts on CRE topics for the NAR Commercial Division and the CCIM Institute. Steve has also served (from August 2017 to March 2018) as national broadcast news correspondent for CEOReport.com, a news website focused on practical advice for senior executives in small- and medium-sized companies. Steve also reports on-camera and covers conferences for NJSpotlight.com, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry; and for clients of StateBroadcastNews.com, a division of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC. Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey, since 1996. Steve is co-author, with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, of the book, The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional. You can email Steve at [email protected].